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NFL Preseason Power Rankings: Denver Broncos still reign supreme

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With two preseason games out of the way, MHR's weekly power rankings begin!

We don’t usually do a Power Rankings list in the middle of preseason, but since we missed pre-preseason and ESPN’s Rankings managed to ruffle some of our feathers, we’ve decided to break the rules and start now.

The most important thing is that the Broncos won the Super Bowl, and the other 31 teams in the NFL did not. That makes them number 1 going into the season, and the rest of them are somewhere between 2 and 32. I won’t be offended if you stop reading now, because that’s all the really matters. However, if you really want a more elaborate (albeit snarky) analysis, please keep reading.

Off-season moves and draft results have some impact, but it’s hard to make a concrete analysis until rosters are finalized and teams have played multiple regular season games. Here is my prediction of where they stand barring any serious injuries or suspensions.

  1. The Super Bowl 50 Champion Denver Broncos

Remember that time the Broncos won the Super Bowl after all the haters hated?With an aging quarterback and poor offensive line, the Broncos had arguably the best defense in history, and one of the worst offenses in the league. But Super Bowl MVP Von Miller earned his huge new paycheck, and literally made Cam Newton cry.

Other outlets have claimed that the Broncos will be considerably worse this season after losing Manning, Jackson, and Trevathan. To them I say, open your eyes! It’s not reasonable to think the Broncos’ offense will be worse than last season. Sure we had a HOFer at the reins, but he looked more like Archie playing with a broken arm out there. Our offensive line was patched together with 2nd and 3rd string players, and the entire team was shifting to a completely new offensive system, which made for the worst QB ranking in the league. This season we have 2-3 quarterbacks with mobility to fit the bootleg scheme, our offensive line is upgraded thanks to Russell Okung and other additions, we have more running backs to choose from, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, the entire offense has a season under Kubiak’s system already. Instead of trying to learn his plays, they have been perfecting them.

We lost two of our history-making defenders, sure. People seem to forget that Danny Trevathan missed a significant amount of the 2015 season due to injury. Malik Jackson will be missed, but the Broncos have already done a good job replacing him. The reason the Broncos were so good was because of their depth on defense, and that remains the same. Enough guys are on the team to let each other rest, giving them a huge advantage. Especially at a mile high.

So for now at least, the Broncos remain at number 1. Keep pumping out those hilarious ads, MVP Von.

2. Carolina Panthers

If you’re not first, you’re last. I guess that’s not really true in this case, but to them it felt that way.

Unfortunately for the Broncos, the Panthers have Kelvin Benjamin back, ready to test their defense in the season opener on September 8th. They are out for revenge and they are going to be hungry. Luckily the game is in Denver, where even Superman, himself, has trouble breathing.

3. Green Bay Packers

Did everyone forget about the Packers this off-season? Sure, they were disappointing last season, but considering the injuries they had to deal with last year, they put up a pretty impressive season. This year they have Jordy back for the Rodgers-Nelson blue eyed voodoo connection. Eddie Lacy’s gut shrank down to size and he shredded the Raiders defense. If they can stay healthy, and Aaron’s drama queen Bachelorette brother doesn’t cause him any stupid distractions, they might be as dangerous as Vikings’ fans feared they would be last season.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers

So far, Le’Veon Bell will only miss 3 games this season, Antonio Brown is fresh off of Dancing with the Stars, and Big Ben is as hate-able as ever. If last season is any indicator, the Steelers need to get their defense figured out or they might be in for some big shoot outs again. Fantasy football owners, take note (though personally, I try not to draft alleged rapists even for make-believe teams).

5. Arizona Cardinals

This all rides on Carson Palmer’s surgically repaired knees. If he can make the most of his huge choice of wide receiving weapons the entire season, the Cardinals will be scary. They have Honey Badger back in the lineup, and their defense is no joke. Palmer might be celebrating more than being able to walk if he stays upright all season.

6. New England Patriots

This is the first one that really pains me, but all the way down at 6 isn’t so bad. The Pats didn’t get a first round draft pick, and Tom Brady FINALLY has to pay his time for his cheating habits, which will give his poor wittle thumb enough time to heal so he can suck on it after the Broncos drive him into the ground again. Sorry, rant over. On a serious note, the Patriots are dealing with injuries. Dion Lewis is starting the season on the PUP list, requiring more surgeries on his ACL. Offensive Linemen Vollmer and Mason are both out, with at least Vollmer moving to IR. I don’t see Garappollo excelling much with a porous line and no feature back to help him out.

7. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals always show promise in the regular season, and always blow it in the playoffs. This season will probably be similar to last season, with Andy Dalton having two polar opposite sides, Pacman Jones creating drama, and Marvin Jones being disappointed in the playoffs. But at least they will get there.

8. Minnesota Vikings

Teddy Bridgewater has quietly been rising to the top. Probably because he’s not a showman like some of the other young quarterbacks in the league… He’s surrounded with some dangerous wide receivers this year. Remember when Stefon Diggs almost embarrassed the Broncos historical defense? He’s going to be even better this year. And don’t forget that they still have AP, although his age is going to catch up with him any day now.

9. Indianapolis Colts

Now that Andrew Luck has survived a (Broncos induced) ruptured kidney, he looks smarter. Which is scary, because Luck was already pretty dang smart as a Stanford grad. His backup, on the other hand, not awesome. But if the Colts can play like they did in 2014, with their upgraded defense, they will be in the AFC running. Gee golly, that would make Andrew happy, guys.

10. Seattle Seahawks

This is the other team it pains me to rank in the top ten. But at least they aren’t #1, like ESPN had them! I could rant about this for an entire article, but I’ll keep it concise here. The Broncos stole the only good offensive lineman that the Seahawks had left – Russell Okung. And they didn’t even steal him, he called John Elway and asked him if he could play for the Broncos. If the Seahawks’ offensive line is as bad as last year, Russell Wilson is going to be relying on his magic concussion drink a lot this season. Not to mention, they actually have to play against starting caliber quarterbacks this year. They got to play Jimmy Clausen TWICE last season for two different teams! Those are gifted Ws!

On the plus side, I moved out of Seattle (don’t get me wrong, gorgeous city that I will dearly miss), so I don’t have to listen to entitled fans who don’t remember the 90s yell at me while I try to kayak in peace in my Von Miller jersey.

Seriously though, this will be the year that their stupid luck runs out, right? Right?

11. NY Jets

The Jets did the right thing in signing Fitz on for another year. Maybe I’m just partial to beards. Maybe they will actually make the playoffs this year instead of the "almost" of last year. Plus he has Geno Smith with his jaw fully intact threatening to take his job at any misstep. He still has all his weapons and another season under his belt with them, I don’t see how they could be worse.

12. Dallas Cowboys

Jerry Jones might have surpassed everyone on my s*** list, skyrocketing to the very top, after he bought his way into the Hall of Fame instead of our beloved Pat Bowlen. And I am hoping his dynasty of mediocrity continues this season. Unfortunately, Dak Prescott looks to be the best rookie quarterback in the preseason, and he will be there to rescue Tony Romo after his arm falls all the way off this year.

13. Baltimore Ravens

Joe "the elite" Flacco is back. So is Elvis Dumervil. So I guess the Ravens will be better again. But not quite elite.

14. Buffalo Bills

The Ryan Brothers are back together!! And Tyrod Taylor will always be the one that got away for the Broncos. I’m not sure that Rob Ryan is an upgrade at defensive coordinator, but at least his brother can comfortably call him out when he does stupid stuff. That could make for some awkward Thanksgivings.

15. Oakland Raiders

Sure, they have an eyeliner wearing quarterback who looks promising, but I have two words for you (or is it three?): Jack DelRio. Jack wouldn’t know what to do with an elite defense if Wade Phillips gave him the secret recipe himself. They will probably pull out some wins against good teams, and completely get demolished by mediocre offenses.

16. Kansas City Chiefs

That’s right, I put the Raiders ahead of the Chiefs. Sorry about it, Chiefs fans (I know you’ll be down there trolling MHR in the comments, because Von Miller is the devil). But honestly, Alex Smith isn’t doing you all any favors. He’s never going to have what it takes to win you a Super Bowl. You won one playoff game in 20+ years, against a team with a 9-7 record. I only see this trend getting worse, Jamal Charles seems to be made of glass these days. At least Andy Reid will give the Kool-Aide guy a run for his money.

17. Houston Texans

Oh poor Houston, you thought you were getting the quarterback of the future when you paid Brock Osweiler $18 million. Elway is not stupid. It was a set up. He wanted Osweiler to reel you in, so that you’d take care of that salary he was demanding. Good luck keeping him upright in week 7!

18. Atlanta Falcons

Remember how the Falcons started 6-1 last season, and finished 8-8? Doesn’t that remind you of the McDaniels years? Enough said.

19. Cleveland Browns

City of Cleveland, it’s football season, the season for another sports hero… RG3?

My inkling is that RG3 is going to improve the Browns, but their management is so bad that he won’t be enough to fix all those problems. I truly hope that he and Josh Gordon can make some magic, but if not, at least the city got their championship in the Cavs to take some of the pressure off.

20. Chicago Bears

Without Gase, Fox is a little more lackluster. Between him and Cutler, there isn’t a care in the world, in a bad way. Unless we are talking about his kids, they need Kristin’s special goat milk anti-vax formula.

21. NY Giants

Ok honestly, it’s hard to differentiate when we get this far down on the list. Kudos to you if you’re still reading. Eli might shine without his brother overshadowing him. New coach, same team for the most part. Maybe they can win all those games that came down to the final drive this year. Only time will tell.

22. Washington

Ah, Washington DC. New home to me. New fans to put up with. So far, they are non-existent. Which is much better than Seahawks fans (although, they started off that way too in 2010). I’m still not convinced that Kirk Cousins wasn’t a Nick Foles-esque fluke, and they lost Alfred Morris. This season seems to be a toss-up for Washington.

23. New Orleans Saints

Will their defense finally be good enough this year to not screw everything up for Drew Brees? I mean, come on guys. Drew works his butt off every day trying to repeat 2010, and nobody else seems to be helping. You’re in the easiest division in the league, at least give Cam a little competition here.

24. LA Rams

Typing LA is still weird. Maybe it will be weird enough in a good way that Jeff Fischer can finally get above .500. As long as his dirty defensive coordinator doesn’t injure anyone, I don’t see the problem. So far. Jared Goff doesn’t seem to be the answer though.

25. Detroit Lions

I mean, they can’t be much worse than last year right? It only can go up from here? Oh wait, Calvin Johnson retired. I take it back.

26. Jacksonville Jaguars

This team is unpredictable. They took Malik from us, but I don’t think it will be enough to really pay off. In any case, nobody will witness it because they don’t sell enough tickets to broadcast the game.

27. Tennessee Titans

Marcus Mariota might be the answer the Titans have needed, and he might be better with a year under his belt. If DeMarco and carry some of the team on his back, they might be moving up in the rankings this season.

28. San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers didn’t look terrible against the Broncos, but it sounds like their locker room is a hot mess with Colin Kaepernick being a crybaby. Reminds me of a young Jay Cutler…

29. Philadelphia Eagles

So, the Eagles drafted Carson Wentz, pissed off Sam Bradford, got rid of their best running back, and then broke Carson Wentz’s rib… sounds like a winning formula to me…

30. Miami Dolphins

Miami helped the Broncos get the number one seed in week 17 last season. For that, we thank you. Please keep doing that.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

All they have is running backs. Hey Tampa, you need more positions to win games!

32. San Diego Chargers

I almost feel bad for the Chargers. They have no fans and they might have to move to a new city. Almost. And then I think about Phillip Rivers’ face.

Nope, I don’t feel bad.